THE rise of the cashless society is a modern phenomenon. Last October it was reported that contactless transactions had overtaken chip-and-pin payments for the first time in the UK as, in the words of payment provider Worldpay, consumers embraced “more convenient forms of payment”. Worldpay forecast that during the final six months of last year, UK shoppers could spend up to £38.5 billion via contactless transactions in-store.

The more we opt for contactless payments and online banking, the less need we have to withdraw cash or visit our local bank. Several thousand banks across the UK have shut in recent years; Santander is to close 140 branches, 15 of them in Scotland, saying the closures were linked to “changes in how customers are choosing to carry out their banking.”

Cash machines have suffered, too. According to data from LINK, the UK’s largest cash machine network, there are 500 fewer of its ATMs now than there were a year ago. The number of transactions is down by six or seven per cent in the same time-frame.

This decline seems to have hit some areas disproportionately hard, among them the mostly rural Dumfries and Galloway, and semi-rural Aberdeen South. Glasgow East, long one of the most deprived constituencies in the UK, lost six of its 121 cashpoints. The disadvantaged, and those who live in rural communities, should not be made to travel further to access their money.

So LINK’s announcement that hundreds of communities in remote and deprived area are to be protected from losing their cash machines is good news. Given Scotland’s rate of bank closures, the declining fortunes of many High Streets and its relatively poor mobile coverage, anything that safeguards the ATM network is to be welcomed - particularly as, via ever-growing numbers of contactless payments, we continue to turn Britain into a cashless society.